South Africa has such a unique landscape and requires an equally unique formula when tackling its social, cultural, political and economic issues. For this reason, over the coming years, the National Arts Council (NAC) intends positioning itself appropriately in order to adapt to the constantly evolving South African and global arts and culture environment.
A word from the CEO, Rosemary Mangope
The NAC has adopted the overarching philosophy of “collaborative strategy execution”, whereby it recognises itself as existing in an arts, culture and heritage (ACH) ecosystem in which it’s necessary to find means of strategic coherence between ACH sectors at the national, provincial and local levels.
This is crucial in order for there to be alignment with the arts and culture industries on the regional, continental and international levels. We do not operate in a vacuum. We must work with partners to leverage available funding and knowledge for there to be meaningful developments and exchanges.
Surviving, participating and thriving in this ecosystem comes down to collaboration across the board and finding strong, strategic links to fully realise the NAC’s mandate of proactively engaging in the ACH sector rather than merely serving as a grant-making agency.
In this regard, the NAC intends living up to its full mandate of providing proactive assistance and support to, and linkages between, arts and culture workers and organisations. We are undergoing constant and unrelenting transition at both operational and strategic levels to make sure that our approach is more holistic and geared towards developing those who operate in the arts and culture sphere.
Part of this entails engaging in activities that foster social cohesion and nation building, as well as supporting the Mzansi Golden Economy, a strategy of the Department of Arts and Culture focused on job creation in the ACH sector. In order to accelerate our support for organisations that have nation building, social cohesion and job creation agendas, we are currently in the process of debating our funding model to so as to develop artists and cultural workers, as well as to develop a sustainable industry.
To signal this shift in focus, the NAC has recently partnered with the Paleontological Scientific Trust (PAST). This partnership is one of our flagship projects and is an excellent example of how the NAC is tangibly involved in nation building and social cohesion, not only locally but globally, as the PAST project has far-reaching implications in terms of who we are as human beings and how we’re all related.
I cannot place enough emphasis on the importance of the NAC fulfilling its mandate. This is a key driver in the organisation reinventing itself and staying relevant. Our strategic intention for the foreseeable future is to develop and provide value-adding products and services targeted at all stakeholders, communities and artists to create a meaningful platform for cultural and economic engagement.
So as part of the NAC’s contribution to shaping artistic and cultural discourse in South Africa and beyond, we can expect a drive towards greater and broader collaborations, strengthened cultural platforms, and the development of a generation of artists and cultural workers with an entrepreneurial spirit.
It’s an exciting time in which we will see more than just the creation of art for art’s sake. We’re entering a period where artists will soon be encouraged to package their skills appropriately, which will in turn put South Africa on the arts and culture map and remain topical. There is a need for the sector to take on a new paradigm, and I think as the NAC evolves and reinvents itself, it will be at the forefront of this new paradigm.